£19.5m to unlock private rented sector for most vulnerable

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP has confirmed the fund will be shared among 54 projects.

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Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP has confirmed over £19.5m is to be shared among 54 projects across England in bids to help thousands of people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, to secure their own home.

This funding forms part of the governments £100m Rough Sleeping Strategy, which set out detailed plans to end rough sleeping “for good”.

Councils are to use the funding boost to help vulnerable people secure their own tenancy through support such as paying deposits or putting down the first month’s rent.

The Minister has also outlined plans to look at letting adverts which potentially discriminate against would-be-tenants on Housing Benefit, making clear that these “should end”.

According to reports, out of 4.5m households living in private rental accommodation, 889,000 receive housing benefit to help pay rent.

Yet, latest figures show around half of landlords said they would not be willing to let to tenants on Housing Benefit.

In the coming months, ministers are due to meet leading industry representatives, including mortgage providers, landlord associations, tenant groups, and property websites to “clamp down” on blanket exclusions in adverts – with a view to stopping them altogether.

On the funding announcement, Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler MP said: “I want everyone to have the security, dignity and opportunities they need to build a better life – at the heart of which is ensuring everyone can find a safe and secure home to call their own.

“This funding will make a huge difference in opening up the private rented sector to people who need it and give them the chance to rebuild their lives.

“I will also be meeting key stakeholders to tackle the practice of ‘No DSS’ to underline the need for immediate change.”

Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance Justin Tomlinson added: “Everyone should have the same opportunity when looking for a home, regardless of whether they are in receipt of benefits.

“With Universal Credit, payments can be paid directly to the landlord, and we continue to listen to feedback and work with landlords to improve the system.”

Responding to the announcement,  John Stewart, Policy Manager for the Residential Landlords Association said: “Landlords should not refuse someone solely because they are on benefits, and should consider prospective tenants on a case by case basis.

“But with growing numbers of benefit claimants now reliant on the private rented sector we need to do more to give tenants and landlords greater confidence in the benefits system.

“This means giving all tenants the right to choose if they want to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord, working with bank lenders to remove mortgage terms that prevent landlords renting to benefit claimants and ending the Local Housing Allowance freeze which has meant benefits bear little resemblance to rents.”

Adding comment, Paul Noblet, head of Public Affairs at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint said: “An increasing proportion of households in the UK are renting privately.

“This means it’s vital that this type of housing works for people on low incomes, but Centrepoint research found that 80% of private landlords would not let to a young person claiming housing benefit or who has been homeless.

“As well as looking at ‘no DSS’ housing adverts, the government must also urgently review the amount of housing benefit young people can claim for their housing costs to make sure it keeps pace with the cost of renting. Crucially, the government must work with developers to deliver more genuinely affordable housing at scale.”

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